Thirty years after it was founded and a dozen since it licensed a radioactive cancer-detection aid, Navidea Biopharmaceuticals Inc. is selling a drug, not just investigating them. Cardinal Health Inc. on Wednesday began the commercial launch of Navidea’s drug Lymphoseek under its exclusive U.S. distribution deal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March approved the drug for use in procedures to map lymph nodes around a tumor site after breast cancer and melanoma operations. Those nodes are removed and tested to see if the cancer is spreading.
“Since the approval, we’ve gotten a fairly constant stream of inquiries,” said Navidea (AMEX:NAVB) CFO Brent Larson. “People are very excited to finally have it available.”
The company wasn’t marketing the drug before the launch, so most questions came from hospitals that participated in clinical trials testing the drug, he said. One of the trial sites was Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.
Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), Navidea’s much-larger neighbor in Dublin, operates the country’s biggest network of 140 nuclear pharmacies, which specialize in compounding radioactive drugs just in time for delivery to hospitals and surgery centers.